Lists for twentysomethings are somewhat of my guilty pleasure. I always cringe when yet another one pops up on my timeline or news feed, yet I typically can’t resist reading them, even when they are littered with stale and recycled advice. Yesterday I stumbled upon “The 20 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make In Your 20s” from Elite Daily. Like most lists of this ilk, there were things I both agreed with and disagreed with regarding the supposed gems of wisdom. Number 19 stood out.
“19. Thinking that this is the right time to fall in love…”
Even as someone who constantly advocates for being single and figuring your shit out, I don’t agree that it’s necessarily a mistake to think your twenties are a good time to fall in love. Perhaps it is a mistake to harp on finding love or to align yourself to arbitrary romantic timelines. But, when people fall in love is not a one-size-fits-all equation. Hell, it’s hardly a conscious decision at all. I have friends my age who are engaged and friends who enjoy being single. Neither one of these groups is inherently more intelligent, mature or self-aware than the other.
What is a mistake, however, is believing a relationship now, or ever, will somehow save you from yourself. I know. That sounds beyond cliché. But, we all see people do it every day. Total train wrecks who go and join themselves to a person thinking that partnership will be the panacea for their unfulfilling career, mounting insecurities, mountain of debt and every other issue they have. Instead, it does the exact opposite. The issues you have yet to sort through and deal with are only magnified, not masked, when you enter a relationship.
Maybe that is where number 13 in the Elite Daily list comes in:
“13. Blaming anyone else but yourself for anything in life. Hold yourself accountable for everything. At the end of the day, all you have in the world is yourself — so go hard. Don’t look to anyone for answers and instead of making problems, create solutions…”
It is my sincere hope that it does not come as a surprise to you when I say you actually have to work on being a better a person. We all do. It’s not something that just happens. It is not merely a byproduct of getting older. It is instead the result of a lot of hard work and reflection. We have to dig through our baggage. We have to not only want to be better, but we have to consciously and proactively work at it every single damn day. We cannot dump our issues on another human being and expect them to repair us.
It was right around this time two years ago that I started seeing a shrink. My life had just imploded for a host of different reasons so I was willing to try it after a friend’s recommendation. Since then, I’ve gone to therapy on and off. I’ve also been writing three to four times a week and that has been my catharsis as well. Did you think this blog was purely for your entertainment? Of course not.
Sitting on a couch for fifty minutes and pouring out your thoughts isn’t necessarily the solution for everyone. Don’t fret; I’m not going to go all Freud on you tonight, at least not anymore than I already have. But, we all owe it to ourselves to find that channel that does work, independent of another person. We owe it to ourselves to face our demons head on and come to grips with our very imperfect and scar-ridden lives. We owe it to ourselves to sort through our mess. Figure out our shit. Work on ourselves. Sleep easy at night because we are happy. Whole. OK with the mistakes we’ve made and the wounds we’ve amassed. And, at peace with the lessons we have learned from it all.